Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Ryan Poles Straight Up Just Called The Bears Offensive Line Weak


One thing that has become apparent with new GM Ryan Poles is he’s not shy about saying what he feels. Reports say it was one of the big reasons he won over George McCaskey to get the Chicago Bears job. He isn’t mean about it or anything, but he is honest. One of his primary targets in his dressing down of the roster was the offensive line. Apparently, he is not a big fan. Not a surprise considering he played the position himself at Boston College.

You’d think Pole would prefer to keep any comments he has behind closed doors. Something Ryan Pace always did. Nope. If people needed a reminder of just how different the new Bears GM is, they could look to an interview with The Athletic after his opening press conference. When Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns brought up the offensive line to him and what he saw, Poles was…less than flattering.

If anything, he outright called weak and passive.

“It agitates me to see a quarterback get hit and be on the ground — and I watch the five guys and their body language,” Poles told a small group of reporters from The Athletic and The Bigs after his introductory news conference along with new coach Matt Eberflus.

“If I see my guy on the ground, I’m running over there, getting him up, making sure he’s clean, ready to go. I don’t know if I saw that enough in the tape that I watched, and that’s critical. And also to protect your guy. If you see something cheap, something dirty, you need to set the tone that that’s not gonna happen, because if you do let it happen once, it’s going to happen over and over and next thing you know, your quarterback is hurt. So that (nastiness) mentality is critical and is something we need to add.”

That was a huge criticism of the Bears offensive line throughout most of the season. Too many times, they didn’t show much aggression or fight when their quarterback was taking unnecessary hits. They didn’t help him off the ground after sacks. It was depressing to watch. The only player that wasn’t having any of it was rookie Teven Jenkins who started a fight against the Minnesota Vikings after Justin Fields was hit late out of bounds.

This raises an important question. Exactly how many members of this front five will be part of the team’s future? People were somewhat certain that Cody Whitehair, Sam Mutipher, James Daniels, and Larry Borom all had places on the roster going into the offseason. From the way Poles talks, it feels like the only one who should feel safe is Jenkins. Everybody else is expendable.

All signs point to Ryan Poles attacking the offensive line

The reality is the Bears don’t have a lot of resources to work with. Only five draft picks and a modest $43 million in cap space (with 30 pending free agents). So it is unlikely he will be able to fix all the problems with this roster in one offseason. That means the new GM will have to focus on certain areas he deems the most pressing. Based on how he is already talking, it is a safe assumption the offensive line will be the top priority.

Hardly surprising. With Fields being the focal point of their efforts in turning the Bears around, the protection is where it all must start. Fields was sacked 36 times in just 12 games last year. It is hardly surprising he ended up suffering multiple injuries. There is no way the kid will survive, let alone reach his full potential unless Ryan Poles shores up his blocking.

The good news is this is a good offseason to do that.

Free agency could offer some underrated options at tackle (Trent Brown and Morgan Moses), guard (Connor Williams and Trai Turner), and center (Ben Jones and Brian Allen). The draft seems to have a robust collection of talent available, enough to where the Bears could end up finding capable players between the 2nd and 4th rounds. If Poles operates the way Kansas City did last year, it is possible this line can make a swift turnaround.

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